January 30, 2011

Iran Inaugurates Space Test Laboratories (Source: PressTV)
Iran has launched a number of laboratories for testing “space structures and systems” in line with its progressing space program, the Iranian Defense Ministry says. The labs have been inaugurated by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ahead of the Ten Days of Dawn (Feb. 1-10) celebrations marking the victory of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Planning and setting up the laboratories is in continuation of firm steps taken by Iranian experts in putting domestically-built satellites into orbit, said Iran's Defense Minister.

The Defense Ministry constructed ten labs to “reinforce infrastructures of Iran's space industry” and help improve the abilities of human resources. He also noted that Iran is expected to unveil other space projects in the near future. Iran launched its first domestically-produced satellite, Omid, into space in 2009. (1/30)

San Diego Museum Hosts 'Space' Exploration Exhibit (Source: North County Times)
Most Americans are familiar with the words astronaut Neil Armstrong spoke as he stepped from the Lunar Module onto the surface of the moon on July 20, 1969, but an exhibit opening Tuesday at the San Diego Air & Space Museum hopes to transition the public's consciousness about human space exploration from the past into the future.

"Space: A Journey to Our Future" is a large-scale traveling exhibition created in 2003 with the help of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Science Teachers Association. The family-friendly, hands-on exhibit helps visitors of all ages learn not only about past space travel but also about the machines and technology involved in modern space travel ---- which have come a long way from the rudimentary vehicles and computers that Armstrong and his colleagues depended on 40 years ago. (1/30)

BrahMos Aerospace to Make Cryogenic Engines for Indian Rockets (Source: IANS)
Missile makers BrahMos Aerospace will manufacture the cryogenic engine once the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) perfects the technology. The company is also hoping to induct its supersonic cruise missile into the Indian Air Force and develop hypersonic missile in six years' time, A.Sivathanu Pillai said.

"The ISRO is developing the cryogenic engine to power its GSLV (geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle) rockets. Once ISRO perfects the technology, we will make the engine as the space agency has asked us to do it," Pillai said. The company's wholly owned subsidiary BrahMos Aerospace Thiruvanthapuram Ltd (BATL) that already makes the liquid fuel powered engines and fuel tanks for rockets will make the cryogenic engine, he added. (1/30)

Authorities Seeks Lead on Missing Moon Rocks (Source: NBC)
If $5 million worth of moon rocks happen to be junking up your home, could you give New Jersey State Police a call? Detectives will arrive at, well, warp speed to reclaim state property — and solve a 35-year-old mystery. The rocks were supposed to go on public display starting in 1976, when an astronaut presented the Governor’s Office with goodwill tokens of Apollo 17, the last manned lunar landing. But last year, researchers, curators and former Gov. Brendan Byrne told The Record they had no idea where the gift went.

Now, state police confirm they are looking for leads on the rocks, whose estimated black-market value is $5 million. The shards, gray and jagged, resemble fireplace ash. The New Jersey bits weigh just over 1 gram, or about 1/28th of an ounce.

"Had a stapler been taken from the governor’s office, I believe there would have been a greater effort to find that item than the state’s Apollo 17 Goodwill Moon Rock, an item of immense economic and historical value," he wrote. "It is my hope that New Jersey opens a criminal investigation to try to find its property, and I would begin by asking former governors and their families, as well as their staffs, about it." (1/30)

Astronaut Won't Run for West Virginia Governor Again (Source: Charleston Daily Mail)
During the course of his career as an aviator and astronaut, Beckley native Jon McBride has piloted everything from the Goodyear blimp to the space shuttle Challenger. One thing he won't relaunch, though, is his bid to move into the West Virginia Governor's Mansion. In 1996, he lost the Republican nomination for governor to Cecil Underwood, who went on to win that race. "No, I won't be doing that again," McBride told a reporter. (1/30)

Space Station Welcomes Wave of International Cargo Ships (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
The International Space Station received its second cargo freighter of the week Saturday night when a Russian-made vessel loaded with two-and-a-half tons of supplies safely approached and docked on autopilot. The Progress M-09M spacecraft linked up to the station's Pirs module while orbiting 220 miles above the Atlantic, just off the coast of Uruguay.

"For the second time in less than three days, an international cargo craft has weighed anchor at the International Space Station," said a NASA official. Hooks and latches were engaged a few minutes later to firmly secure the 24-foot-long craft to the station. The craft joins a previous Progress ship that launched in September and remains affixed to the outpost, plus two Soyuz crew transport capsules currently residing at the space station.

The station also possesses the Japanese HTV 2 freighter that arrived earlier this week. Soaring within reach below the outpost, the astronauts used the robotic arm to snare the craft and attach it to the Harmony connecting module on Thursday morning. In contrast, the Progress used thrusters to fly itself straight into the docking slot without needing any intervention by the crew. (1/30)

Editorial: Sen. Bill Nelson Didn't Learn Much From Challenger Disaster (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
After Challenger blew up 25 yeas ago, I spent six months learning why. I spent much of that time talking to NASA engineers and managers, getting schooled not only on the technical causes for the disaster but also the institutional failures. It is a history that bears repeating, because politicians like Sen. Bill Nelson have not learned a lesson from it.

Last month, NASA demonstrated it learned its lesson. It told Congress it could not develop a new manned rocket under the existing time and money constraints. The response from U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and Kay Bailey Hutchison was to build it anyway. After all, it is off-the-shelf technology. Nelson said he has told NASA "to follow the law, which requires a new rocket by 2016. Nelson was on the launch before Challenger. It was cold. Burn marks were later discovered on an O-ring seal in the left booster. Did he learn nothing from his own close call, or the tragedy that followed? (1/30)

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